FAQs

Well, if you’re on The Advocator, you’re obviously someone who wants to make a difference! The first thing you might want to do is go to the home page and Explore Coalitions. If you come across one that is advocating for an issue you would like to support, join that Coalition. If not, Start a Coalition yourself! Step-by- step instructions show you how.

The Presidential campaigns of Senators Obama and Sanders showed us that groups of committed people can make a difference. The forces of big business are already using these tools to get what they want. This is a way to fight fire with fire. When politicians see groups of everyday people with Lobbyists and PAC money rallying around certain issues, they will have to take notice.

Well, it is and it isn’t. Using the same tools that businesses and large organizations use to influence government isn’t hard. You just need the right expertise on your side. We help get you started with our “Ask Darlene” video series, where our veteran Lobbyist walks you through the process. After that, your Lobbyist will be able to help you navigate the halls of power to make change. This can be difficult, and take a long time, but government works in this way. At least the odds will be more even now that everyday people can have the same type of access usually reserved for billionaires.

Crowdfunding is simply the practice of funding a cause or project by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people who have a similar interest. Social networking makes it possible. Platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe have shown how successful crowdfunding can be. Crowdfunding was also a major factor in the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, who raised millions of dollars from millions of supporters who contributed an average of $27.

The Advocator is 100% dedicated to providing you with the tools to influence decisions in federal, state, and local government. It was designed by a veteran lobbyist and a digital expert to help you generate support for your issue by hiring an experienced lobbyist, and starting a PAC. These are exactly the methods your adversaries have used for decades to create lasting and meaningful change in government.

The Advocator would view you as an activist and a very important player in the political process. Our Lobbyists take your activism to the next level. We require Lobbyists to be registered with federal and/or state governments based on where they do business. Lobbying is a regulated industry and a protected activity under the First Amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees rights to free speech, assembly, and "to petition the government for a redress of grievances", which is lobbying. With The Advocator, you are provided a choice of experienced, connected, registered Lobbyists that know how to best advocate for your issues.

Lobbying has taken place in the US for centuries. While Lobbyists are often portrayed as having an outsize influence on legislators for the benefit of dubious special interest groups and companies, the fact is virtually all industries and organizations, large and small, hire Lobbyists. Why? Because they’re achieving positive results. Most Lobbyists are working for great causes, such as the environment, children, food & nutrition, civil rights, safety, animals, and healthcare. Just as in other occupations where a few bad apples commit acts that shed a negative light on the industry, the Lobbying industry has had those experiences as well. Most Lobbyists are successful because they are very knowledgeable about certain issues, have longstanding relationships with staff and legislators, and above all, are honest.

Anyone over the age of 18 can start a Coalition in accordance with The Advocator Terms & Conditions.

The amount charged is based on the services you will require and your negotiations with the Lobbyists on The Advocator. There are many excellent, experienced Lobbyists who own or are affiliated with low overhead small firms. These are the firms The Advocator will be seeking to advocate on your behalf. You may want to begin to speak with Lobbyists early in the process so that you can set your milestones appropriately.

Yes, you should definitely have a contract, which includes Scope of Services. For your convenience, we have placed an Agreement for Lobbyist Services template in Advocator University, that you are free to use. Your Lobbyist may also have a contract that they normally use with their clients.

Whether you agree to use the template, or a contract supplied by your Lobbyist, Section 3, Fees and Expenses, of the Agreement for Lobbyist Services template MUST be included in its entirety and without alteration. This section stipulates how and when Lobbyists will be paid for their services and is non-negotiable. The contract should include a Statement of Services the Lobbyist will perform on behalf of the Coalition. Coalition Leaders should also request that Lobbyists provide a regular (usually monthly) update of services performed and goals that have been accomplished.

A PAC is the acronym for Political Action Committee. In the United States, a PAC is a type of organization that raises monetary contributions from its members and combines those funds to campaign for or against political candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor, or ideological interests. PACS can be federal or state. For example, if your Coalition is concerned about clean water issues, you may decide to form a PAC to support candidates/legislators who are supportive of clean water initiatives. PACs have monetary limitations on how much can be raised and spent and associated timeframes, as determined by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for federal PACs. Each state has its own commission for regulating PACs and different rules apply to each state. The same state commissions often also regulate Lobbyists, lobbying activity, and compliance.

No. Anyone can start or join a Super PAC, also known as Independent Expenditures Only Committees (IEOCs), and with The Advocator, everyday citizens can now take part in the process too. They’re not at all difficult to create and according to the Center for Responsive Politics, there are about 2400 Super Pacs, which spent about $1.1Billion during the 2016 election cycle. A Super PAC is a type of political action committee that is allowed to raise and spend unlimited money from individuals, corporations, unions, and associations to influence the outcome of federal elections, as well as state and local elections in those jurisdictions where allowed. However, the Super Pac is not allowed to contribute directly to the campaign and is not supposed to directly coordinate with the campaign. Funds are normally used for TV, radio, print or cable advertisements, Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts, voter outreach through mail, email, “robo” calls, and social media, polling, research, and overhead.

It’s completely free for Lobbyists to sign up with The Advocator. It’s also free to start your Coalition and share via social media to raise funds to hire your Lobbyist or start a PAC. The Advocator will deduct a 5% fee from each donation that you receive. Since our fee is deducted automatically, you will never receive a bill or worry about owing us money. A small processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ will also be deducted from each donation. Please see Pricing & Fees for more information. There is no time limit on how long you have to raise funds. The political process is not quick. It can sometimes take years to achieve results. Your adversaries know this and never give up.

It’s completely free for Lobbyists to sign up with The Advocator. It’s also free to start your Coalition and share via social media to raise funds to hire your Lobbyist or start a PAC. The Advocator will deduct a 5% fee from each donation that you receive. Since our fee is deducted automatically, you will never receive a bill or worry about owing us money. A small processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ will also be deducted from each donation. Please see Pricing & Fees more information. There is no time limit on how long you have to raise funds. The political process is not quick. It can sometimes take years to achieve results. Your adversaries know this and never give up.

Share your Coalition page with everyone in your social networks and everyone you know by email. And encourage all your friends and supporters to do the same. If enough people think your issue is important, they will want to share it on their own. You can also get the word out via more traditional means like digital advertising and public relations.

The Advocator makes it easy for you, so that you can focus on fundraising for your cause. Lobbyists and PAC Treasurers must establish accounts on The Advocator. We are partnering with Stripe, which is a payment processing system that provides a quick and secure way to accept and process contributions, as well as make payments, online.

Coalitions that are crowdfunding to hire Lobbyists can concentrate on building a strong following knowing that all the contributions you collect are being safely processed and secured with Stripe. Funds you collect will appear on your dashboard within 2 days of collection to allow full transparency for you and your Coalition members. Stripe will maintain the funds and once you have collected at least 2 months of Lobbyist fees, your Lobbyist will receive their monthly fee directly from Stripe. Personal information such as banking accounts, etc. are secured with Stripe, not The Advocator.

When you contribute money to a Coalition, funds are paid directly to the Lobbyist or to the Coalition’s PAC. Stripe holds the funds for the Lobbyist as the Coalition reaches the agreed-upon retainer amount; the money is released directly to the Lobbyist monthly by Stripe. At any point in time, you can check the Coalition dashboard to determine the goals and milestones met.

Funds for PACs are released directly into the PAC’s bank account by Stripe. PAC accounts are very heavily regulated and PAC Treasurers must disclose where the money goes and in most cases, who contributed. You will see exactly how the PAC is spending their money in their quarterly disclosure documents to the Federal Election Commission.

You can help your cause even if your Coalition’s contribution milestones are unmet! Upon sign-up, each Coalition Leader is asked to choose a nationally recognized non-profit, that supports your issue. In the event enough funds are not received to fund a Lobbyist, collected contributions will be donated to the selected non-profit in the name of the Coalition.

Stripe is a payment processing system that provides a quick, seamless, state-of-the-art way to accept and process contributions, as well as make payments, online. If you engage in e-commerce, chances are you have used Stripe without realizing it. Stripe handles tens of billions of dollars in Internet transactions annually. The Advocator decided to use Stripe because they currently successfully serve over 100,000 global e-commerce and crowdfunding businesses, such as Squarespace, Kickstarter, Shopify, Lyft, Apple Pay, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Amazon. Most importantly, Stripe makes use of best-in-class security tools and practices to maintain a high level of security for customers, which is extremely important to us.

The Advocator does not provide PAC compliance, legal, or administrative services advice. However, we have provided contact information for the Federal Elections Commission which regulates federal PACs, as well as websites for each state’s Compliance/Ethics and PAC sites. Each state has their own rules and regulations which must be adhered to when starting a PAC. Remember, PACs are formed every day. Many others have started successful PACs to promote their issues and you can too!!

Yes, you can request that your name not appear as a Coalition Member on the site. However, Coalition Leaders will receive your information so that you can be included in updates and receive pertinent information about the Coalition.

There are numerous types of tax exempt organizations that many grass-roots organizations and coalitions decide to utilize, some which allow unlimited lobbying. If you wish to become a state Coalition and you decide to file for tax exempt status, it’s best to review the rules for that state. Federal Coalitions, which operate nationally, will want to consult the IRS at: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non- profits/types-of- tax-exempt- organizations. The IRS site also provides toll free numbers to answer any questions you may have. Due to the fact that everyone’s situation is different and tax rules are subject to change, The Advocator is unable to provide tax advice.

More than likely, there is an "Ask Darlene" video on your topic. You can always contact us if you have any other issues.